The three big names that dominate tractor sales in Ireland enjoy a position that, to many, might appear unassailable, but there is one company with a different idea, and that is Claas – which is determined to break into the charmed circle.

Naturally, all of the manufacturers are filled with ambition, but the German company has made an investment at its UK base of a significance that has yet to be fully appreciated.

Front of Claas building
The new face of Claas at Saxham exudes an air of confidence in itself as a company

This €25 million investment is hardly a secret, the completion of its new building was heralded in 2020, yet events conspired to delay its presentation to the world.

Agriland was invited to visit the new HQ to garner an insight into the operations and machinery associated with the brand, check out the video below.

Harvesting roots

Claas prides itself as a harvesting company that makes tractors, rather than a tractor manufacturer that has happened to acquire a harvesting business somewhere along the way, but that does not mean that it treats the tractor side of the business with any less favour.

Trevor Tyrell, CEO for Claas UK and Ireland, points out that Claas already has 50% of the world’s forager market and has a large slice of the combine sales as well.

Showroom at Claas UK Saxham
On the inside, the showroom extends all the way up to the roof of the building, giving the impression of being out in the open

Tractors are a natural growth area for Claas and it is determined to push ahead and place itself on the world stage as a force to be reckoned with in this area as well.

Workshop interior
Manns of Saxham is fully owned by Claas and is integrated into the new development. It has a fully digitalised state-of-the-art eight-bay workshop

The new facilities at Saxham, on the edge of Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, are set to play a key role in this assault on the market, and it is not a charge based on aggressive marketing or pricing, but it will be undertaken through adding value to the product.

Supporting sophistication

A tractor has become a specialist tool, and, like all tools, it requires care and maintenance along with a quick response should problems occur.

CVT on table
The CVT is set to become the standard transmission across all sizes of tractor according to Claas

Claas’ involvement in training apprentices goes far beyond an occasional few days of hands-on training.

The company is now an approved training provider and is paid by the British government to do so, complete with Ofsted inspections.

Lathes in machine Shop
Students are taught the fundamentals of machining often through making their own specialist tools

Students on the programme are soon introduced to the digital side of modern tractors and the latest tractor and service record systems.

Claas does not require its dealers to be equipped with lathes and milling machines, yet it does wish to foster an attitude of resourcefulness among its technicians, expecting them to solve problems and get things working again, rather than hang around waiting for a spare part to arrive.

Green room at Claas HQ
In-house training videos are created within the company’s own green room

Operators are not ignored either. Courses are regularly held for users who are new to the machines or wish to update their skills, ensuring that the features built into the tractors and harvesters can be fully utilised out in the field.

Claas marketing

Yet, the new buildings are not just about training. Claas has taken a long hard look at its marketing efforts and decided that the money going into shows and big field days is more effectively spent on bringing potential customers to the machines where they can be viewed and demonstrated in a less hectic environment.

Claas tractor cutaway
Besides new machines, the showroom accommodates other exhibits such as this Axion 960 skid unit with six-cylinder FPT engine block and Claas’ own sump and frame

Housing a few machines in the cathedral-like cavern of the main showroom is just one part of this

Such static displays can allow the machines to be examined close up, but they do not give a feel for them at work.

To provide a realistic operating experience, Claas has built a purpose-designed test track in the field behind the main site.

Loader at work
A pit filled with shredded tyres replicates a silage clamp in the demonstration area

Here, a silage and gravel bunker have been built, complete with a fill of shredded tyres to replicate silage, while the far end contains sand for the testing of loaders.

Around the outside runs a test track complete with a ramp to replicate gradients in an otherwise gradient-free landscape, while a large, all-weather sand arena for demonstrating auto steering completes the set up.

Test track ramp
The ramp on the test track allows hill starts and stops to be ably undertaken

Although it cannot replicate a true farm experience, the facility does allow the various features of the loaders and tractors to be highlighted in any weather and at any time of the year, including satellite-based systems on the sandpit.

Claas facility leads the pack

Every tractor manufacturer will talk of how it leads the field in a some aspect of machinery design and production, but Claas has now set the bar high when it comes to selling and supporting its products beyond the factory gate.

The company has delved down into the process of matching a farmer to suitable machinery and then ensuring that the machinery, whatever it may be, operates in the most effective way out in the field.

Claas Arion interior
Interior of the Claas Arion 660 at the test track

The new headquarters is testament to this holistic approach to marketing.

It is far more than just a glitzy office block, it is a building with one overriding function, and that is to ensure Claas UK takes a raw product from the company’s factories and presents it to farmers as a fully-functioning tool with full support and backup.

Add to the bricks, mortar and acres of glass, the evident enthusiasm of the management team, who are all totally open to connecting with the customer base, and the impression is that Claas will succeed in its quest.